The Complete Extended Essay Guide with 100 Topics & Examples
Published byat November 3rd, 2021 , Revised On August 11, 2022
One of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme’s mandatory requirements is to produce a 4,000 words long extended essay, which should be submitted as an independent piece of research.
All IB students must complete the extended essay assignment regardless of the subjects they are taking because, together with CAS and TOK, it is a core module of the IB programme.
An extended essay allows students to choose any suitable topic of their choice and demonstrate their knowledge and capability beyond what they learn in the classroom. This assignment sets the stage for students to hone their research and writing skills for Bachelor’s and Master’s level coursework.
Students write an extended essay in the second term of the IB program’s first year. All students are expected to work closely with their supervisor to finalise the essay topic and the research questions.
The project involves submitting one extended essay draft to get the supervisor’s feedback before submitting the second and final version. A short viva voce must be included at the end of the essay.
How to formulate research questions for the extended essay?
Once the topic has been approved, you can proceed to formulate the research questions (s). A poorly planned research question can cause complications at a later stage, so make sure to take your time to develop a question that would genuinely add value to the existing literature.
The answer to the formulated research question should not be a simple yes or no. It should instead provide valuable information in a larger context. The research question should be focused and relevant to the title. If the research question includes a hypothesis, then there is no obligation on your part to provide it right or wrong. Your job is to test the hypothesis and reveal the facts only.
The question should not necessarily start with words like “Is”, “Will”, “Should”, “Why”, “How”, or “Does”. Merely asserting that “yes, this is correct”, or “no, this is not correct” is inappropriate.
The highest-scoring essays usually address a research question that starts with broader phrases such as, “An investigation of”, “Exploring the idea”, “An analysis of”, “To what extent”, “A review of”, or “Examining the role”. Or it could simply be a hypothesis statement that you aim to test.
If you set out to answer a research question without contemplating the resources required to address it, then you are making a fatal mistake. Whether the essay research is primary or secondary, we cannot understate the importance of a well-thought-out plan to gather relevant supporting academic sources.
However, in most cases, it is only possible to base your essay on secondary data because conducting primary research can involve time and money. But make sure to state your reasons for choosing one research method over another.
Finally, if you cannot find a sufficient number of sources for your research question, you can alter it with your supervisor’s help.
Also read: Mental health essay topics
Structure of an extended essay
The extended essay follows the standard essay structure, including the introduction, main body, and conclusion. However, always check with your supervisor about the structure you must follow to avoid complications later.
Your supervisor will provide the necessary guidance and advice to support you throughout the research and writing process.
The project includes up to three reflection rounds with the assigned supervisor, with the final round consisting of an interview, also known as the viva voce.
The extended essay and the reflection meetings provide a much-needed impetus, especially to those required to pass an interview assessment for a place at university and before acceptance for employment.
There are six required components of an extended essay structure:
The title page is where you state the research question you set out to address, the subject you are studying, your school name, your name, total word count of the essay, and category (for language essays).
This is where you must list the heading and the subheadings with corresponding page numbers. All pages should be numbered using the Microsoft page numbering feature.
This is where you present your arguments, evaluation, comparison, discussion, and analysis of the subject matter. This section’s structure varies according to the subject of the essay, but the supporting evidence should accompany every piece of information.
The conclusion section should relate to the thesis statement, the overall scope of the research, and the line of argument taken. It should also reflect any open questions, research limitations, and unexplained problems.
References and bibliography
A list of academic sources used is provided in the required citation style at the end of the essay. The citation style you need to follow varies subject to subject, but make sure you consistently use it throughout the essay.
The deadline you need to meet
Your school will let you know the deadline for the extended essay assignment. Each school has a different official IB deadline. You will have a year to complete the essay, but unfortunately, most students leave their essay to the last week before the deadline.
Careful planning can help you complete the task promptly and avoid a last-minute crunch. Many students make the fatal mistake of giving too much time to research and reading and with very little time to write an essay.
Most schools set their deadlines for different project milestones to help students stay on schedule. Keep in regular contact with your advisor and management to ensure each section is completed in due time.
The viva voce interview
The viva voice interview allows students to demonstrate the significance of the research results. More specifically, students can provide details of the challenges and the successes of their research during the interview.
For example, you could tell your supervisor about the problem you faced during the data collection process, the strategies you used to overcome them, and how the exercise helped improve your writing skills.
Free extended essay topics
Here are some amazing topic ideas in various subjects that you can consider for your extended essay.